Beyond dressing up in a kimono and hopping between its major temples and shrines, most travelers to Kyoto struggle to dig below the surface of the enigmatic former imperial capital. Enter Hana Morioka, a native of the city tasked with curating insider experiences for guests of the Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto. â€śGenerally speaking, Kyoto prides itself on its discreet nature and ability to preserve centuries-old traditions and keep them alive today,â€ť she says. â€śMy role is to offer a link between our community and our guests, so they can experience a side of my city that is difficult to access.â€ť Under Moriokaâ€™s direction, the hotel has recently launched a series of immersive cultural activities. Among them, guests can enjoy a private Zen meditation session with a senior monk inside a 13th-century temple compound; take up pottery-making in the art of Kiyomizu-yaki; and witness a tea ceremony at the Four Seasonsâ€™ own Shakusuien pond garden, whose history stretches back 800 years.
This article originally appeared in the April/May 2017Â print issue of DestinAsian magazine (â€śLifting the Curtainâ€ť).